Former U.S. Marine Ilario Pantano Running Race Against Backdrop of Iraq Controversy


Even though some of these veterans have questionable records, experts say it's not a change from the norm and is not a reflection on the new generation of veterans running for Congress.

"You've got bad actors in just about any place," said retired Major Gen. David R. Bockel, executive director of the Reserve Officers Association.

The new breed of war veterans, in fact, reflect the same values as those distinguished World War II veterans who joined politics, like Presidents Nixon and Kennedy, others say.

"There is a long tradition of vets serving in politics all the way from the first president, President Washington to President Kennedy to Sens. Webb and McCain, President Bush Senior, George W. Bush, there have been a lot of veterans that continue to serve, and I don't think this generation is any different," said Tim Embree, legislative associate at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

At the same time, the new class of veterans entering politics is different because unlike their predecessors, they volunteered for service.

"These are a different class of military," Embree said. "These folks weren't drafted. ... Rank doesn't really matter because they're coming from different life experiences."

The number of veterans serving in Congress has declined in recent decades. In the Senate, only two World War II veterans remain -- Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, both Democrats from Hawaii.

"The number of folks actually serving in the military has been declining since the late 1980s since the peace dividend, the Berlin wall coming down under George H.W. Bush," Bockel said. "Less than one percent of the population actually serves in the military."

But as more veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return home, experts say there's likely to be a surge once again in the number of veterans seeking public office.

There are more veterans seeking Congressional office this year than in recent election years.

Pantano hopes to add himself to the list of veterans serving in Congress, and he's not letting his own record get in the way or become an issue in the heated race.

"Americans don't want to get caught up in a lot of political nonsense, they want folks who're going to stick to their guns, and ultimately do the things that get the country moving again, not engage in petty political bickering," he told ABC News. "I think Tuesday's going to be very exciting for us and more importantly, it's going to be very exciting for Americans. God willing, we're going to take our country back."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 11981537. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 11981537. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 11981537. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 11981537.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...